Somerville Shepard Fairey Mural Defaced, Repaired

I can’t believe it took me 2 months to get to this, but I’m kind of glad it did because of the happy ending. At the beginning of April, Union Square’s Grand came in to find their Shepard Fairey mural defaced and if you look at the pictures, not even in a creative way. Fairey had put up the mural and others like it all over Boston, Cambridge, Somerville, etc this winter in advance of his show at the ICA. While some of these murals, like the one on Grand, were officially approved, some were not, resulting in a legal storm with charges being added as quickly as they were dismissed. The police are so interested in adding additional charges, they recently came in to Grand to ask if the mural had been approved.
All this to say, that in the meantime, Fairey sent a local friend some replacement posters and the mural at Grand has been restored to it’s original design. This makes me happy.

Somerville Shepard Fairey Mural Defaced, Repaired

Chris Piascik Gallery Opening, Chorus Gallery, June 13

I was thinking it’s been a while since I posted one of Chris’s pictures and then I saw TV Vomit and I had to post it. Chris has an opening on June 13 at Chorus Gallery, which is part of Open Bicycle (which I like because it’s aound the corner). Check it out if you like good things.
Chris Piascik TV Vomit

Chris Piascik Gallery Opening, Chorus Gallery, June 13

Market Basket – Union Square, Somerville

Market Basket in Union Square, Somerville, is the best grocery store ever. You don’t often see reviews for a grocery store that talk about the adventure of shopping there, or referencing a charming chaos, but if I were to write one, those are the exact words I’d use. Speaking of reviews, here’s a good one.

Market Basket is dirty, crowded, and cheap. Because of how quickly it turns over, it has the best produce in Boston (except for maybe the garlic). If you can get in and out of there without having to drive or use a shopping cart, you’ll be totally fine. If you have to park, check out one of the side streets because the parking lot is a nightmare patrolled by police detail. If you need a shopping cart, go somewhere else because you’ll just slow everyone down and get frustrated.

In the “12 Items or Less” line, I’ve seen people with 14 items sent away. Around the holidays, these express lines are overseen by a 2nd police detail, while the aisle between the other checkout lines and the store is completely impassable. My favorite time to go is Sunday night about 25 minutes before closing. It’s still jammed, but not hopeless, almost as if everyone knows what they’re doing.

You can get incredibly obscure ethnic food items, but good luck finding them, because the products seem to change from week to week. Cold cuts at the deli are often $1-$2 less than other area grocery stores.

In my mind, Market Basket fits the personality of Union Square perfectly as well as complimenting the many nearby ethnic markets. Check it out if you think you can handle it.

Market Basket – Union Square, Somerville

Interview with Davy Rothbart from Found Magazine (3 of 3)

Here’s Part 3 of my interview with Davy Rothbart from Found Magazine. In Part 1 Davy talks about the cover of his new book, being on the road, and what happens at a normal Found show. In Part 2 we cover how Davy gets into performance mode, passion, Rise Against, and his new book, Requiem for a Paper Bag. Today, we FINALLY get to the Isiah Thomas part of the interview. These are the hard hitting questions you people are looking for. The Boston area Found show is Saturday, May 9 in Union Square, Somerville at Precinct. If you find something and want to send it to Davy, check out Foundmagazine.com.

You were saying just a second ago how the glimpse you get is incomplete and I feel like wondering about the rest of the story would just kill me over and over, but it sounds like you maybe have used your imagination to counter that.

I think it is intriguing, endlessly fascinating to take whatever clues are there and try to piece the clues together. We’re all surrounded by strangers everyday, walking down the street, sitting on the bus. When you look at these notes, it gives you these clues into what the lives of the people we share with – it gives you a little glimpse into their life. I like watching people and kind of in the same way you wonder ‘what’s that guy sitting alone at the bar, what’s he thinking about’ and it’s the same thing when you read these notes. You’re sense of wonder is titillated. You wonder, ‘what is the story here’.

You lover your job, I can tell. Is there anything you don’t like about what you’re doing?

I think one thing I struggle with, I have a lot of different interests and I struggle with figuring out which – I don’t know if this is the right answer to the question you asked – you know I love writing and I haven’t done that much writing the last few years because Found has been so wonderful. I plan on writing a book of personal essays this coming year and I’m excited to give more time to writing. I also like film making. So sometimes I feel like I’m stealing time from one project and putting it into another and I wonder which thing I should be working on.

That’s an answer.

Here’s another answer for you, too. I like making art. Whatever, writing, or film stuff, or radio, or Found, putting the magazine together, I consider art. There are some aspects of Found Magazine that are more like a small business, you know? I do love talking to all the bookstores that stock Found, stores will call me on my cell phone, the relationships you create with the people that work at these indie record stores or book stores that call me, ‘Hey man, I need 5 more issues of #5.” You know, I like getting those calls. But then there’s some parts of it that are less fun. But I’ve have some friends that have helped transition some of the less fun stuff off of me in the last year or two, so that’s been cool.

I don’t want to take up your entire day, but I do have one last question and I hope it doesn’t end the interview on a sour note. Isiah Thomas and the Knick’s. Does that debacle change the way you feel about him, or do you look past that and only think about the short-short era Zeke?

It’s been… It’s been tough. I always played point guard, I always loved point guards, Isiah Thomas was my hero growing up. The career he’s had since he retired from the court has been one sort of colossal blunder after another. The CBA, he tanked this poor fledgling basketball league. He just bought and tanked it. As a Piston’s fan I didn’t really mind him decimating the Knick’s organization. But I also felt bad that he’s the object of so much scorn. There’s now talk of him going to the Clippers which would just be, I don’t know, bad. I still like him, I still love the guy. There’s this moment in ‘Hoop Dreams’, it’s one of my favorite movies, where the young Arthur Agee and William Gates, they’re 9th graders and they get to meet Isiah Thomas for the first time. And he’s so sweet with them. To me, I’ll always remember him as the guy with dazzling charm and kindness and not as the maybe, poor businessman and [under his breath] sexual harasser.

But my other favorite players have done well, like Jalen Rose has done a lot better after his basketball career. And some of my other favorite point guards are doing well.

And CWebb’s doing well on TNT.

Yeah! CWebb’s a great guy, awesome to see how he’s doing. It’s weird though. It’s strange thinking about when people make these career transitions. Everything they’ve done… I’m about the age, I’m 33, so I’m about the age a lot of NBA players are when they retire. They’ve been incredibly successful and they’ve put everything they had into one thing their whole life, so how weird would it be to suddenly be gone from it and leave it behind. I love stories like The Wrestler, that was a fucking awesome movie. That struggle people have, ‘When are you too old to do something?’ A lot of touring musicians that question arises, too.

When do you stop and what do you do then?

Exactly. I think that is a really interesting question to explore. I’m writing something about a story that takes place in 1987 and I thought of that White Lion song ‘Wait’ because I wanted to use it in this screenplay I’m writing. So I decided to look it up and it turns out the singer for White Lion he has resurrected White Lion and some people, they can’t ever give it up. He’s almost like The Wrestler, he’s playing these county fairs in Des Moines, Iowa. And in fact, his bandmate sued him because he didn’t want him out there, so now they have to call it ‘Mike Tramp’s White Lion’ or something, he can’t even use the name White Lion. And yet there’s something beautiful about people still trying to do what it is they love to do. But sometimes you feel like it’s the only world they know and they don’t know what to do with themselves after that. And maybe that’s what Isiah has struggled with.

It sounds like you’ll be OK because you have several different projects so you won’t get burned out.

I like to think I’ll be able to transition, but it is strange sometimes being home, you get used to a different kind of lifestyle on the road. It’s changed me. I’m sure it will be a transition regardless, but I think it will be a good transition. I look forward to having time. One day when I hang up the Found road show, when I’m in my 60s or 70s, I look forward to having time to try to make movies, or writing, or playing ball. I still hve my college eligibility, I can still play ball.

[Laughter] That’s true, and you could ruin a basketball league or two.

Hopefully. Yes. I do think if I went to some tiny-ass liberal arts college for grad school maybe could I make their varsity team. Like Reed or something. [Laughter]

I’ve heard you can’t go left, but that probably wouldn’t matter in Division III.

I’m thinking if you can rain threes like I can’t, but hope to one day then I could make the team. ‘Put me in coach.’

[Laughter]There’s a Scott Bakula movie about that, right?

Yes. There’s got to be. [Laughter]

Interview with Davy Rothbart from Found Magazine (3 of 3)

Taza Chocolate – Union Square, Somerville

Taza Chocolate is having an Open House & Factory Tour this Saturday, May 2nd at their factory in Union Square, tazaSomerville. If you don’t know about Taza, how the chocolate tastes (delicious), or how they operate (excellent corporate citizens), the open house is a perfect opportunity to find out. You’ll see their factory, tucked into an industrial building, sample chocolate, meet the makers, and see where the beans are roasted and winnowed.

There are many details that set Taza apart from almost all other chocolate makers in the US, and I’d try to explain them, but they’d just get jumbled up. Youll be much better served by reading this excellent Cake and Commerce post. If you’re too excited to read, watch Sooz’s videos on How The Roaster Works, How The Cocoa Winnowing Machine Works, and Grinding the Cocoa Nibs.

Last week, I had the opportunity to go through temperingthe factory tour with the special bonus of seeing the beans ground into chocolate and watching some bars get molded out of the tempering machine. I refuse to cook with a thermometer, tempering is something I bloggers with hairnetsalways hope happens to the shell of my truffles by accident (it never does). Because of this, I got more excited to see the tempering machine than I was expecting. Like before with the post from Cake and Commerce, I’m going to shirk off the responsibility of writing up the visit, but lucky for you, Bostonist has covered it perfectly. Also, peep this wonderful picture of some of Boston’s best food bloggers (I know, you’re wondering what I was doing there, me too) in hair nets.

Taza’s ‘bean to bar’ process for making chocolate makes a bar that’s photo3about as far away from a Hershey Kiss as you can get. The texture of the chocolate is pleasantly grainy and the flavor is almost fruity. I like how they direct trade with (and actually overpay) bean co-ops to get the best of the best cocoa beans, and I like how the chocolate is delivered locally by Metro Pedal Power. I’m in the bag for them and you should check out their Open House. Also, if you see Alex (at left), be sure to ask him if he’d prefer to be known as a chocolatier or chocolate maker.

Taza Chocolate – Union Square, Somerville

Interview with Davy Rothbart from Found Magazine (2 of 3)

Welcome to Part 2 of my interview with Davy Rothbart from Found Magazine. In the first part, Davy talks about the cover of his new book, being on the road, and what happens at a normal Found show. Today, Davy talks about how he gets into performance mode, passion, Rise Against, and his new book, Requiem for a Paper Bag. The Boston area Found show is Saturday, May 9 in Union Square, Somerville at Precinct.

You were talking about how you get a little bit rambunctious and try to read the notes with the energy with which they were written. Some actors and athletes and musicians try to figure out a way to get into a zone when they’re performing and I’m wondering do you have a ‘Davy Rothbart Found Magazine Mode’ or can you just go from sitting shotgun to jumping up on stage and doing your thing?

Well…I gotta give props to the wonderdrug, alcohol. It’s not like it’s a different person or anything. I mean, on the road all those years with musicians, I’m sure you saw that transformation and how different people pulled it off. I like to think I could be that energetic without it, but I think that, you know, you probably slept like three hours the night before and you probably slept on the side of the road and then you drove seven hours, so you need something almost just to bring you to life. I don’t know, I love alcohol and fortunately I’ve always had a pretty good relationship with it. I can drink it every night for two months on the road and come off the road and not need to hit the bottle. But I love Maker’s Mark whiskey, I like a couple beers to sip along side of it. My friend Andrew, he’s come on the road with us a couple times. [Laughing] We were doing these shows with Frank Warren from PostSecret, another community art project along the lines of Found. And Frank was like, ‘Let me see what all your pre-show rituals are,’ before the first show we did together. Andy was like, ‘Alright, Davy’ and I kind of stood there like, imagine a robot that was turned off, you know, limp limp, and my head was bent down. He took the Maker’s Mark bottle and poured it down a hatch in my back. And as he plugged it in, like you would fill a lawnmower with gasoline, I kind of came to life. [Garbled energized robot talking about Found Magazine].

Anyway, to me, besides alcohol, it’s also the content of the notes. To me, their pretty breathtaking. And profound and hilarious. I do find if I can just inhabit the emotion of the note. I might have read the same note the day before, but if I just actually think about what the person is saying and what they were probably feeling when they wrote that note and I just read it with that emotion then I find that’s bringing it to life in a really energetic way that’s real to people because it’s true. So I think you don’t really need alcohol, ultimately. Even just reading the Found stuff that gets mailed in everyday when you read these notes, you find yourself tearing up or laughing out loud. Getting to connect and touch somebody so closely, another human, and sort of be inside their mind and their heart. I think ultimately when I’m reading them during and an event it’s the same kind of thing. I try to be really present with that item, that note, and the person that wrote it.

So basically what I’m getting from this is that as long as you have one note and a full-length mirror into which you can scream naked you’ll be all set?

Yeah, exactly, that’s pretty much the way I rock it. [Laughter]
Continue reading “Interview with Davy Rothbart from Found Magazine (2 of 3)”

Interview with Davy Rothbart from Found Magazine (2 of 3)

Interview with Davy Rothbart from Found Magazine (Part 1 of 3)

Davy Rothbart and the hi_res_found_logo Magazine crew have a new book calleddavy_peter_ballin Requiem for a Paper Bag: Celebrities and Civilians Tell Stories of the Best Lost, Tossed, and Found Items from Around the World coming out on May 5. To celebrate that, Davy and his brother Peter have set out on a tour of the nation (The Boston area stop will be Saturday, May 9 in Union Square, Somerville at Precinct).

To celebrate THAT, I had a conversation with Davy, about, among other things, touring, getting into character, getting old, and, well, Isiah Thomas. The interview ran a little long so I split it up into 3 parts. Here’s Part 2, and Part 3 is coming tomorrow.

Jumping right into it…

requiem_anthology_coverI saw the cover, it’s a little bit different than your other ones, huh?

Yeah, yeah, definitely. This guy Michael Wartella. He’s an artist in Brooklyn. I’d seen some of his stuff in the Village Voice, some of his street scenes. It seemed awesome if we could get him. I didn’t know if he’d be able to pull it off as brilliantly as he ended up doing. But I thought it would be awesome to have a street scene having the authors in the book finding whatever it is they talk about in their story.

Did you have an idea for the cover before you found the artist?

No. I think I just saw his work and I wanted to do something different than some of the other covers. I don’t know. It just occurred to me that we could have the authors of the book out on the street finding shit. I’m looking at it now. It’s so fucking good. I’m really happy with it. I hope the inside’s good, too. I like the pieces, I think it’s a solid book. You know, when we’re out on tour, we end up sleeping in the van a lot of nights. There’s two beds. One is the backseat folding down and the other is the stacks of boxes and magazines. You literally end up sleeping on the books, that’s your bed. So it helps if you like the book and like the cover.

Sweet dreams, right?

Exactly.

I was a tour manager for six years, so we ended up sleeping on the floor of the van a lot of times.

Yeah, it’s not bad, right?

I mean, a couch is better.

Hold on, my brother’s calling in. Let me just tell him I’ll call him right back.

Sure.

Did you guys tour mostly in the US? Did you have a good time?

Yeah, I haven’t done it in a couple years and now I feel like I’m at a place where I hated it when I was doing it, but I wish I could do it again.

God… I know that feeling all too well, that push and pull. Because it is so grueling and difficult and it can be frustrating and just exhausting. And yet the grass is greener. Being home and comfortable is so appealing. And then there’s the call of the road again. I often am like ‘Alright this is the last big tour for a long time.’ This has been the longest lay off. We haven’t done a US tour in a year and a half, two years. But then it’s hard not to get that itch again, right?

Definitely. I guess my suggestion to you would be don’t ever quit.

Really? That’s cool to hear that. I think there’s something else which is to not do it quite as often.

The bigger you get, the more comfortably you can do it, right? So maybe in a couple years you guys will be in a tour bus and you’ll forget all about this conversation.

Haha. Yeah, maybe, the ceiling for literary tours is… well, that’s not true. David Sedaris is an aquaintance of mine and he lives pretty well on the road.

Is this the biggest tour you’ve done?

Actually, this might be the second biggest or third biggest. In 2004 when the first Found book came out, we realized there were finds from every state so we thought it was only fair to take the show on the road. That tour was 136 cities over 8 months in all 50 states, so that thing was a beast. It was a lot of fun. I just love the unpredictability, you know? Of every night not really knowing what’s going to happen, where you’ll end up sleeping that night. As you said, sofas are better than the floor of the van. But maybe you’ll end up, some dude has a grandmother who has a mansion 20 miles outside, oh, Albuquerque.

We stayed there.

Or maybe you end up sleeping on hammocks in Florida in the jungle. Yeah, I do love it. That was the biggest tour, this is the second biggest tour. Other than the 50 state tour. This is 56 cities, it keeps growing, we keep adding little cities here and there. So I think it’s 56 cities in 62 days.

Right, so this is cake compared to the first one.

Well… yeah. I’d say, that one went on and on, but it was pretty magical to go to all 50 states. There was 3 states I hadn’t been to before that tour, Hawaii, Alaska, and North Dakota. So it was awesome to visit those places. It was a good trip. This is only the hits.

Big cities, huh?

The thing that I kind of love, even on this tour, we’ve sprinkled a few cities… I always like going to cities we’ve never been to before. And some of them are cities I’ve never visited or even driven through, like Knoxville, TN, I’m excited about that one. What else do we have? Little Rock, Arkansas. Wichita, Kansas. I like visiting some of those places. I love some of the shows that only have 20 people in some small ass town, but on the other hand it’s nice to know most nights we’ll have pretty good shows this trip because it’s only the hits.

What’s a normal Found show like. Or is there a normal?

In terms of what happens at a Found show? It’s basically about an hour long, sort of rowdy reading and music show. I get up there with a big stack of my favorite notes and letter that people have found and sent into us over the years – or maybe it’s an hour and a quarter – so I have these found notes and I read them out loud, but I end up getting a little bit carried away. I read them with the energy and emotion they were written with. I get a little rambunctious. My brother Peter has written songs based on some of the found notes. And his songs are really pretty and some of them are fucking hilarious. He’s got this one song, in my mind, it’s the highlight of the show. At least it’s my favorite moment of the show when he plays this song. Someone one had found this cassette tape in a town called Ypsilanti, Michigan. It’s these kids, they had written these homemade booty rap anthems. So Peter wrote a cover of one of these songs. I mean the songs are pretty horrible, but Peter wrote a cover of one of the songs called, “The Booty Don’t Stop.” And it’s fucking brilliant. It’s amazing.

I’m looking forward to that one.

It’s a beautiful thing.

(The Found Tour hits Boston on May 9th at Precinct in Union Square. Requiem for a Paper Bag comes out on May 5. Come back tomorrow for the 2nd part of this 3 part interview.)

Interview with Davy Rothbart from Found Magazine (Part 1 of 3)

Open Bicycle is Open in Union Sq, Somerville

Exciting news as Open Bicycle celebrates it’s Grand Opening tomorrow with deals, demonstrations, and parties. Open Bicycle is about an inch outside of Union Square, and even better, about 300 feet from my house, on Washington and Hawkins. They join Metro Pedal Power (even closer to me) and The Dutch Bicycle Company as the newest members of what bike aficionados should (but probably don’t) call Bike Mile. You know, like Auto Mile?

The Bicycle Exchange, Broadway Bicycle School, ATA Cycle, Park Sales, Ace Wheelworks, and Paramount Bicycle, Cambridge Bicycle Shop, and the 3 shops above, are all jammed into a little Cambridge/Somerville corridor making it possible to visit all of them in one swoop if you’re so inclined.

Also, check out this 4K word Boston Globe article about whether Boston is ready to become a first class city for biking. We are.

Open Bicycle is Open in Union Sq, Somerville

Somerville, MA – Hip or Unhip or Both?

I don’t know how to reconcile this Boston Globe article naming Somerville the ‘Top Spot to Live’ for hipsters with this Somerville real estate description saying, for the past 15 years the “hip” and the “unhip” have flocked to its squares”. I think of the quotes around hip and unhip as air quotes, which is fun.

Somerville, MA – Hip or Unhip or Both?